Budgeting & Saving

How to Remodel a 20 Year Old Kitchen for Less Than $3,000

“Humans have unlimited wants and limited resources.”

That is the fundamental idea behind scarcity and economics.

You probably learned this in school.

Supply and Demand right?

Well I happen to think that I have less wants than the next person. But when I want something, I want it without question.

A few weeks ago I moved into a new home. I use the term ‘new’ loosely.

A better term would be ‘new to me’.


The house is about 20 years old and in pretty good condition. The foundation is solid.

The roof looks pretty good.

And the house is in a really nice neighborhood.

I should have been happy to move in right?


Take a look at this kitchen.

Kitchen remodel Rustoleum Countertop Transformations
Kitchen remodel Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations

One glance at these pictures and you should be able to see what I’m referring to.

Not sure?

Let me make it clear.

I love to cook. LOVE to cook.

I enjoy being in the kitchen. Cooking is like an art to me.

It’s calming and enjoyable.

However, when I first saw that kitchen, my heart dropped.

There was no way that I wanted to cook in that kitchen. I was immediately disappointed.

And I quickly decided to change things up.

If you’re a homeowner, then you know how expensive remodeling can be. So please bear with me as I list all of my desires ‘HGTV’ style.

I want granite countertops! And let’s knock that wall out for an open kitchen concept.

And oh yeah, those cabinets HAVE to go. They are way too old and outdated.

I desperately NEED stainless steel appliances. Please!

I voiced my desires and I started to price the changes. After realizing that my budget was WAY off, I made a few changes in what I had to have.

Ok, maybe I don’t need granite countertops.

And the wall can stay.

The cabinets are still ugly. Maybe a new coat of paint?

I desperately NEED stainless steel appliances. Please!

Once I came back to reality and settled on a few compromises, I began to change up the kitchen.

The final look may surprise you. It sure made me happy.

Here are the before, during and after pictures. The total cost came in around $3,000 and $2,000 of that was for the appliances.

Keep reading to see how we remodeled this kitchen on a budget.

Kitchen-Remodel Rustoleum Countertop Transformations
Definitely a before shot. This house was built about 20 years ago and while the foundation and basics are still good, the design needs a modern update. This stove has seen too many casseroles. The countertops are a vanilla laminate. (That’s the nicest way I know how to describe them.)
Kitchen remodel Rustoleum Countertop Transformations
These are the cabinets in a simple wooden finish. The gold handles are an eyesore, and both the cabinets and the handles are covered in years old grease and fingerprints. The sink is very shallow and the faucet is pretty low, meaning it would be tough to wash dishes in there. The dishwasher is also pretty old. Notice that there is no refrigerator. Lucky us.
Kitchen remodel Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations
Another shot of the stove and cabinets. There is no microwave in this kitchen and the area over the stove has a range hood instead. Be thankful that you cannot see the ‘leftovers’ inside the cabinets.
Kitchen-Remodel Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations
This is a pretty neat island with extra cabinet space and drawers. There are two outlets on each side of the island. This is also an opportunity to see the lovely linoleum floors. They are stained from years of use.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
In order to keep the costs of remodeling down and shorten the time to move in, we decided to DIY the kitchen. For the countertops we purchased the Rustoleum Countertop Transformations Kit in Java Chip. The kit comes with an adhesive color coat, ‘granite’ chips, sanding materials, and a durable clear top coat. Here I am getting ready to sand the countertops and remove any extra grime. The sink has already been removed and the water shut off so we are ready to go. We’ve also removed the cabinet drawers and doors in preparation for the paint job which will come later.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
The first step involves painting on the adhesive color, in our kit it was a deep mahogany color. Before the adhesive can dry, a layer of granite chips is applied. These chips get EVERYWHERE. Fortunately, a shopvac can scoop up these suckers.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
After the granite application, the whole thing has to dry for 24 hours. Then the countertops have to be sanded down to achieve the smooth granite feel. You’ll need a lot of elbow grease.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
After sanding, the durable protective top coat was applied. Here is a shot of the finished countertops. After a week of drying and curing they can be used.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
The countertops look pretty good, but those cabinets… yuck.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances

In order to update the cabinets, we decided to use the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit. It included a deglosser to prep the wood, paint, optional glaze, and a clear protective coating. My back and legs were sore after bending down and leaning over to apply each coat required but the final look made it all worth it.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
My fiancé helping out. Each cabinet had to be coated twice with the bond color. There was an optional glaze but with darker colors it is very subtle and almost unnoticeable so we decided to skip that part and saved an entire day of dry time.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances

Here is the new sink installed! We opted for a deeper basin along with a taller faucet and spray.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
The old style cabinets look much more modern with a dark coat of paint.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
And now for the final look! Here is the stove area. We opted for a stainless steel appliance set that included a stove, refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
I’m so excited about my cabinets! The hardware was purchased from Amazon. We ordered brushed nickel drawer pulls/handles and bronze hinges to complete the look.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
The island looks much better with the updated color. I’d like to update the outlet to match the stainless steel plate covers at some point.
How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances
Here is a shot with a view of the floor.

How to Remodel a Kitchen on a Budget | Young Finances

And now for the total costs. I’ve rounded to the nearest dollar.

Kitchen suite: $2,100
New sink basin: $99
New faucet: $99
Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit: $75
Rustoleum Countertop Transformations kit: $250
Plate covers: $6
Cabinet hinges: $45
Cabinet handles: $55
Total: $2,729

Not too bad! I’d still like to do a backsplash against the walls so I’m budgeting about three hundred for that. But I’ll wait a bit before I jump in.

Do you have remodeling experience? What was your first home purchase like?

Originally posted 2014-07-21 06:00:26.

Budgeting & Saving

How to Pay off Student Loans without Going Broke

This post was inspired by a reader question:

“How can I pay off my student loans without going broke?”

Student loans these days are a part of most college students’ vocabulary. Yes, there are some recent college graduates who didn’t have to take out student loans when they chose a college, but that’s pretty rare these days.

Before you sign that paper

Here are some tips for those of you who haven’t gotten to college yet. You will be able to avoid the debt headache if you follow this one tip.

Work during college

You can work full time while you are in school.

Cons: Your grades may suffer a little.

You won’t get to participate in the ‘College Lifestyle’.

Pros: You will have the money to take that extravagant vacation.

You can start building an early retirement fund or save money to start a business.

You’ve Already Signed the Paper

Here are some ways to make that looming debt a little smaller if you have already taken out some loans.

Only Borrow What You Need

If you know your major and you decide to take out a loan, only borrow what you can expect to make in your first year. For example, the starting salary for a finance graduate is 47,500 according to If you’re a Finance major, your total student loans for all four years of college should be less than or equal to this.

Don’t have a major?


If you are not sure what you want to do when you graduate, chances are you will be in school a long time, changing majors and racking up a big bill. If you are not sure what you want to do, start working full-time. You’ll at least find out what you don’t want to do, and it will put you closer to deciding what you do want to do.

Cons: You may have to get a part-time job to fill in cash for extra activities

Pros: You will have a low payment once you graduate

Borrow for a Full-Time Load

If you decide to borrow as much as the government allows and maybe more, you should prepare as much as you can while in school by networking in your chosen field and applying for internships as early as sophomore year.

Cons: You will have a large debt payment once you graduate

Pros: You will get the advantage of the full ‘College Lifestyle’.

You can work an unpaid internship to get the experience you need to pay your debts off once you graduate.

You’ve Already Graduated

So what if you’ve already graduated and now you have a humongous debt payment? You have a few options. First use a student loan calculator to figure out what you owe.


If you are not making enough income to cover your loan payments, contact your lender and request a forbearance. As long as they are government loans, there are a number of options available for you.

Payment Plans

There are several loan payment plans available for those of us with Federal student loans. You can select a variety of repayment plans. One depends on your income, one is a fixed payment and there is even one that has a gradually growing payment. If you borrowed from a private lender, check with them to see what plans they have. Private lenders make their own rules with regards to repayment.


Hide! You can become a full-time student, again, and your lender should automatically get the notification from your school that you are a full-time student. This will increase your overall debt load, but you may gain some skills that will propel you into that full time job you need.

The Good News

There is a silver lining! Remember that the government loans that you have are locked in to a relatively low interest rate. If you pay them at 4% and you can make 7% with a dividend paying stock, then you are earning 3%. So don’t let your student loan payments get you down. You used a form of debt that’s called good debt. It’s debt that leveraged you into a position to increase your earning power. Eventually you will pay it off. If you can’t afford the payments right now, talk to your lender and explain your situation. They will do what they can to help.

Did you pay off your student loans already? Were you one of the few that didn’t have to take out loans?

Make a Plan to Get Out of Debt Faster with ReadyForZero

Originally posted 2014-07-15 06:00:40.

Budgeting & Saving

9 Steps to Take After Graduating with Student Loans

There is no doubt that student loan debt has become a bigger and bigger problem in recent years. According to College Board, about 57% of public, four-year college students graduate with debt. So if you have student loan debt, you are not alone. I also fall in that group of college graduates with student loan debt. And though I ask myself each day when I look at my student loan balance if college was worth it, I always repeat the same words to myself. “Stop procrastinating and pay off that debt!”

I would like to help you pay off your student loan debt as well so I’ve come up with 9 clear steps to take after graduating with student loans. And in an educational fashion, each step takes us through the first 9 letters of the alphabet.

Assess the Situation

I have a friend that told me how she was scared to look at her student loan balance. She only cared that she did not yet have to pay them. Well, the day will come when she will have to start paying those loans back. If she asks for my thoughts I will recommend starting with this first step of assessing the situation. Figure out what student loan servicer has your loans. You’ve likely received an email or letter from them that lists your loan balances and due dates.

If you have multiple loans, like I did, then look into consolidation. Often, making one payment is easier than trying to make 7 different payments. Head over to and login to your account if you have no clue where to start. If you have private loans then contact your private loan servicer. You can be sure they have contacted you.

Begin Career

While you have been assessing the situation, you’ve also been looking for a job right? Hopefully you had internships and made a great impression. You’ve compiled your resume and you interviewed like a pro, landing your first career job. You’re earning the expected entry-level salary for your major and you can’t wait to get your first paycheck.

Celebrate Success

Now it’s time to celebrate! I always think getting a new job deserves a happy dance but maybe that’s just me. Grab your closest friends and head out for a night on the town. Enjoy the moment and revel in your success because after this night of enjoyment, it’s time to buckle down.

Determine a Budget

The first budget that you create based on your brand new job is going to be pretty simple. Check out your employer sponsored retirement plan and see if they offer a matching program. Many employers will offer to contribute 50 cents for every dollar that you contribute to your retirement plan. They will typically do this up to a percentage of your pay, usually 3-6%. Your first step in budgeting for student loan debt repayment is to take advantage of this free money.
Next you will determine how you want to live. If you can bring home a decent pay but still manage to live like a college student, you will have no problem paying off your debt.
A general rule of thumb is to allow for 31% of your paycheck for debt repayments. That includes credit cards (which you hopefully do not have), student loans and miscellaneous debts.

Evaluate Options

If you have started your budget and you determine that 31% of your take home pay is not enough to cover the student loan payment, start evaluating your payment options. Public loans offer Income Based Repayment, Income Contingent Repayment and Pay as You Earn as ways to lower your payment. If you realize that you truly cannot begin paying immediately, look at deferment or forbearance as an option. These options will allow you to stall your payments though you may have to pay interest that accrues.

Figure the First Payment Date

Now that you have your options fully locked into place it’s time to decide when you are going to begin paying your loans. When I graduated college, student borrowers were allowed a 6 month grace period before we had to start paying back our student loan debt. I decided to use deferment and forbearance time to stall even more. Once you have your budget and your payment plan, you can begin paying right away if you choose.

Grow Emergency Savings

Congrats on paying your loans! Each month that you pay, remind yourself that your college degree was worth it. But don’t neglect your savings. If you have extra cash that you can contribute to your loan pay off, I encourage you to put that into an emergency fund instead. Paying off student loans is a worthy endeavour, but keep in mind that emergencies may pop up as well. Make it a point to stash some cash for a rainy day.

Halt Lifestyle Inflation

As you continue to work in your brand new career, you are likely to receive an increase in pay. It’s easy to take these increases and inflate your lifestyle. A small apartment turns into a bigger apartment. One night out a week turns into happy hour each day after work. Keep an eye out for these budget busters!
I used a very simple method to combat the lifestyle inflation creep. Each time I received salary percentage increase at my company, I simply increased my contributions by the same percentage increase to my company sponsored 401k. I saved more and because they were pre-tax contributions, my paycheck was roughly the same.

Ignore Doubts

It’s easy to look at your student loan debt balance and feel like it is insurmountable. Instead, surround yourself with supportive friends and family. A strong support team will make paying off that debt much easier. I know you can do it! You made it through college, right?

This post originally appeared on

Originally posted 2014-05-21 06:00:49.

Budgeting & Saving

The Wealth Number Book Review

Time for another book review! Although I regularly read books for personal development and skill enhancement, I don’t always take the time to write a review unless a book really makes a great impression on me.

Click here to see the best investing and personal finance books for young adults.

I recently read The Wealth Number: A Financial Solution to Pursuing the Job You’d Love.

the Wealth Number book

I purchased this book on the recommendation of a friend. The book starts of with a summary of what it means to be financially free. So many people are stuck at jobs they hate and do not pursue a job they would love because they don’t have enough saved to support themselves.

In The Wealth Number, the author provides a straightforward way to increase savings to a ‘wealth number’ which equals one month of expenses saved. As you increase your wealth number, you move closer to the freedom to pursue a job you love.

This video really says it all.

I really like the book because it is an easy read that simplifies the concept of saving. I actually read it more than once; the second time I read it, I figured out a way to move my expenses to one paycheck in the month, and save the second paycheck of the month. (Then I joined the Save Half club)

There were salary examples in the book that helped me make the change. In this way, I increase my wealth number by one each month. It feels good to have the freedom to choose the perfect job because I have a high wealth number.

This book is perfect for someone that is looking for an easy way to start saving for a purpose. You may want to start a business, travel the world or take some time off to write a book or volunteer. Regardless of why you want to increase your savings, it is important to have a high wealth number so you have the freedom to pursue a life you will love.

Great read.

I was so excited about how this book changed my finances, I even posted about it on Facebook.

increase your wealth number
If you haven’t gotten the book already, don’t wait. Get it now and increase your wealth number.


Curious to see the one book I recommend to everyone starting out? Click here to watch.


Originally posted 2014-04-20 06:00:40.

Budgeting & Saving

Best Credit Card for Young Adults

As a young adult it is important for you to establish a credit history. More than that, it is important for you to establish a good credit history.

Oil tycoon and billionaire J. Paul Getty says, “..borrowed money must always be promptly repaid. Nothing will write finis to a career faster than a bad credit rating.” (Source)

This post contains references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Please visit our disclosure to view our partners, and for additional details.

[Tweet “..borrowed money must always be promptly repaid. Nothing will write finis to a career faster than a bad credit rating.”]

So with that said, there are a few ways to begin to build a credit history and they all start with borrowing money and paying it back.

A credit card is a great way to begin building your credit history.

There are several credit cards out there but the best credit cards for young adults are the ones that offer benefits without fees.

So if you are asking, what is the best credit card for a young adult and you are able to keep your expenses in line with your income then I have the answer for you.

What is a Good First Credit Card?

If you have no credit history at all then you will likely have no credit rating.

In that case, you should look into secured credit cards. This type of card allows you to borrow against cash that you have deposited with the issuer.

It is a great way to build credit.

However, if you have a record of paying bills, for example an electric or gas bill, then it is likely that you have a credit rating.

Check your credit score for free here and obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure there are no errors.

What is the Best Credit Card for a College Student?

As a college student, you are at an interesting time in your life.

Most college students work maybe part time and some even work full time while pursuing their degree.

It’s hard to live as a college student.

What you make usually barely covers tuition and a social life. It’s easy to want a credit card so you can live the way you want, the way you imagine yourself to be once you complete your degree.

As a college student a credit card is not necessary, but if you want to start building credit early, this may be the best time to do so.

There are credit cards for college students that require fair to no credit and can help you start building a good credit history. The trick is to choose one card and stick with it.

Originally posted 2014-03-25 10:00:40.

Budgeting & Saving

My Experience with Sallie Mae

LaTisha: This is a reader’s experience with Sallie Mae. The purpose of these stories is to help prevent others from making the same mistakes. If you have an experience that you would like to share anonymously please contact me.

Figuring Out How to Pay Tuition

My experience with Sallie Mae has been a rather interesting one. I originally began business with the company back in 1999 when I started college at a private school. Imagine the overwhelming feeling that both my parents and I had when we realized the steep tuition that would have to be paid for me to get a better education. The head of the financial aid department made it sound so simple to just sign up for a student loan and everything would be handled. Well just coming out of high school with zero credit under my wings, my only option was for my parents to be the co-signer for me.

For those who are not familiar with the meaning of a co-signer it’s basically joint signers of a loan agreement who pledge to meet the obligations of the debt in case of default. My parents were only thinking about the present and not how it would affect them in the future. I did not think about how this could negatively affect me also. I took out a private loan, and several federal loans. The day that we decide to sign that loan was the beginning of financial imprisonment with Sallie Mae.

Deferment versus Forbearance

I only attended that particular private school for one year and this set me back $16,000. I figured that I wouldn’t worry about it too much because by the time I finish college I would make payments on the loan and I would be okay. Each year while I was in school I put the loan in forbearance. Anyone who knows anything about loans will know that when you’re in school you are allowed an in-school deferment. I was uneducated when it came to loans so I was gradually wasting my forbearance time away for when I really would need it.

At the beginning of my third year in school, I became extremely ill with major health issues and had to put college on hold. Well, there went my plan of finishing school with a good job so that I could pay my loan. I just kept the loans in forbearance and when I had the money I would pay some money on the interest charges (which were adding up). Eventually, I was not financially able to make payments on the loans and my forbearance ran its course.

I began to receive the phone calls from Sallie Mae and although I explained my situation, they were not in the least bit interested. All Sallie Mae wanted to know is how and when I would be able to make a payment. Once they realized that they had very little chance of receiving much money from me, they began the phone calls and threatening letters to my mom. She tried to help as much as she could but with her small paycheck and her own financial obligations it became a stress factor. At this point, all I wanted to do was put this behind me.

Lessons Learned

As of today, I have graduated college and with the economic downfall I am working part-time, seeking full-time employment. My mom is now disabled and not working at all. This unfortunately does not excuse the loans from so many years ago. I talk with Sallie Mae about once a month and I hear the same thing each time. “You have used up all of your forbearance so you cannot place your private loan in forbearance.” The loans are now around $20,000 because of the interest adding up. I make a small payment of $50 each month to keep the loan from going into default. If I could go back to the day I started college in 1999, I would never have signed that private loan with Sallie Mae.

What to avoid when beginning your college journey………

  • Co-signers: the debt will not only follow you but the person who co-signs for you.
  • Private Student Loans: These loans have more restrictions and usually have higher interest rates.
  • High Interest Loans: Avoid loans altogether if possible. There are many scholarships and grants available if you do your research.

LaTisha: Readers, what are your thoughts on this situation? Have you encountered a similar situation? Any suggestions on possible alternatives?

Make a Plan to Get Out of Debt Faster with ReadyForZero

Originally posted 2014-02-18 10:00:42.